In Praise of Idle Hands

October 14, 2010 at 9:16 AM Leave a comment

Some years ago some scientists looked at brain activity, to see how different areas lit up depending on if someone were doing a task or if they were daydreaming or unfocused.

What they found surprised them – there was just about a 5% difference in brain activity between people who were being productive and people who weren’t. In fact, the brain is very active when people are not tightening bolts or polishing widgets.

Downtime gives your brain a chance to make connections that it can’t when you’re busy getting work done.Bike Rider Which is why people are always getting good ideas in the shower.

Unfortunately, the corporate paradigm has it that people should always be doing something. An employee not actively engaged in fiddling with something is wasted money.

But there’s a part of innovating that can only be done when you’re not doing anything else. That’s why I try to ride bikes to meetings – it’s a little extra time to be unfocused, and let those synapses make new connections. Companies looking to find innovation within their ranks (which is where it will be) should know that even if an employee isn’t doing a task, his or her brain might be on the job.

(Image courtesy of the great tubulocity biking blog)

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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at www.fuseinsight.com

 

"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters

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